Osteosarcoma is a type of bone tumor frequently diagnosed in dogs. This type of cancer has similar manifestations to bone cancer that affects youngsters in humans. This canine cancer usually stems from the rapid growth of bone cells at peak age. Osteosarcoma affects adult dogs (mostly male dogs), but puppies are not immune to it either.

What are the symptoms of osteosarcoma?

symptoms of osteosarcoma | Clear Canine Cancer
Signs are subtle, but when they occur they involve and are related to the bones. The most prominent symptoms are lameness on a forelimb or hind limb without injury or trauma. The dog will show signs of pain on the swollen limb, or the vet might discover swelling near the joints.

Another tell-tale sign of this type of canine cancer is increased susceptibility to fractures. In other cases, there might be swelling on the affected limb without lameness. When osteosarcoma spreads to other bones and tissues, the dogs will display difficulty swallowing, facial deformity and abnormally increased sensitivity to stimuli (hyperesthesia).

All these symptoms might result in increased irritability, aggressiveness, whimpering, weight loss due to loss of appetite and lethargy (exercise becomes painful).

Are some dogs more susceptible to canine cancer of the bones?

Osteosarcoma affects many large breeds of dogs, and it can be seen when they develop intermittent lameness without cause. Studies show that Rottweilers have an increased vulnerability condition compared to other breeds. Other breeds that may display increased susceptibility to canine cancer of the bones include German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Dobermans among other large breeds.

The rule of thumb is weight. It is said that dogs weighing 80 pounds and above have 60 more chances of developing osteosarcoma than dogs weighing below 75 pounds. Pet owners of the small breed of dogs, therefore have no cause to worry.

How is osteosarcoma in dogs diagnosed?

How is osteosarcoma in dogs diagnosed | Clear Canine Cancer

Diagnosis involves X-rays and bone scans. A lesion-like appearance is typical in x-ray pictures of canine cancer of the bones. In the case of such results, a biopsy of the affected area to make a specific diagnosis is essential. Sometimes, due to the increased weakness of the affected regions, a determination is made by blood tests and histopathology.

There are few cases of fractures due to biopsy. However, it is common for dogs to experience increased pain after biopsy procedures. Expert pathologists might prefer to use a hypodermic needle to obtain samples from the bone tissue for histopathological testing.

Beyond the limbs, the vet will also do tests of the chest area and the lungs. In 90 % of canine osteosarcoma cases, cancer would have spread to other areas of the body by the time of testing.

How is osteosarcoma treated?

How is osteosarcoma treated | Clear Canine Cancer

There are various treatment options, and the choice would depend on the dog’s condition at the time of diagnosis. Owners can also decide which opportunity to take with their pets. Because of the metastatic (spreads to other areas) nature of osteosarcoma, the prognosis is always grim.

The most common treatment for the canine cancer of the bones is amputation of the affected limb and chemotherapy for the affected areas due to metastasis. Immediate systemic chemotherapy is advisable to take care of any malignancy spread to the lungs and vital organs.

The drugs used in chemotherapy often include cisplatin, carboplatin, and doxorubicin. The vet will advise for about five treatments each three weeks apart. Without chemotherapy, surgery, there is little chance of survival for your dog after surgery.

If the dog has generally good health with the tumor only confined to the bone, then amputation is not necessary. A limb-sparing surgery procedure can be done to replace the diseased limb bone with an implant. A bone graft from another dog or a mixture of metal and bone graft can also be used for limb reconstruction. Limb-sparing is preferred over amputation in cases where the dog has a neurological condition or an orthopedic disease.

The limb replacement procedure can take about 2 hours. After that, the dog will be hospitalized for about four days, with a bandage around the leg. The dog will resume normal activities in about a month after surgery, but motion, posture, and weight exercises must be started immediately after the surgery.

My dog is in extreme pain. Is there any way to relieve it?

My dog is in extreme pain. Is there any way to relieve it | Clear Canine Cancer

Indeed, osteosarcoma in dogs is associated with intense pain. The vet can advise pain medication, but not as a replacement for amputation and chemotherapy. Some of the pet pain meds used include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), tramadol, amantadine, and fentanyl.

What is the prognosis for osteosarcoma?

It all depends on the stage of malignancy and the spread of the disease. The vet will only give a diagnosis after carrying out all diagnostic tests and assessing response to initial treatment. The vet will also direct on the best ways to take care of your dog diagnosed with the condition.